Honoring President Gerald Ford

Posted by: ST on December 31, 2006 at 10:27 am

The Associated Press has a nice write up and recap of the arrival of Ford’s casket at the Capitol yesterday:

With the thunder of cannon and the whistle of a bos’n pipe, the nation’s capital honored Gerald R. Ford’s memory Saturday in funeral ceremonies recalling the touchstones of his life, from combat in the Pacific to a career he cherished in Congress to a presidency he did not seek.

Lights bathed the granite arch of the World War II memorial commemorating the Pacific theater as Ford’s nighttime funeral procession, bearing his wife, Betty, and the casket of the 38th president, stopped there in tribute to his years as an ensign and gunnery officer. The other arch, representing the Atlantic theater, stood in darkness.

An aircraft from the White House fleet brought Ford’s body to Andrews Air Force Base from services near his adopted California home, where mourners streamed past his casket in quiet remembrance of the even- keeled man summoned to the presidency in a time of national trauma 32 years ago.

Vice President Dick Cheney, Ford’s chief of staff long ago and an honorary pallbearer now, stood silently among the dignitaries attending the brief arrival ceremony, which was punctuated by cannon fire. The arrival opened the Washington portion of Ford’s state funeral, with procession that took his casket from Maryland to Virginia and then over the Memorial Bridge _ dressed in flags and funeral bunting _ to the memorial, past the White House without pausing and on to the U.S. Capitol for the first service and a lying in state that continues until Tuesday morning.

Mrs. Ford sat stoically in the snaking line of gleaming limousines, clutching a tissue and dabbing her face on occasion, then walked slowly at the Capitol in the arm of her military escort, soon followed by the casket bearing her husband of 58 years. Another round of cannon fire rang out.

The pageantry was muted, as Ford wanted, but the ritual unfolded with regal touches and according to exacting traditions dating back to the mid-1800s.

In one departure from tradition, pallbearers placed his flag-draped casket outside the House chamber before it was taken to the Rotuna to lie in state. That honored Ford’s years of service in the House as a congressman from Michigan and minority leader.

Similarly, Ford’s body will rest briefly outside the Senate chamber on Tuesday, commemorating his service as vice president, which also made him Senate president.

On the way to Capitol Hill, World War II veterans and Boy Scouts gathered by the memorial and saluted at the brief, poignant stop. Mrs. Ford waved through the window. A bos’n mate stepped forward to render “Piping Ashore,” a piercing whistle heard for centuries to welcome officers aboard a ship and now to honor naval service.

Fitting services for a great man. Make sure to read it all.

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One Response to “Honoring President Gerald Ford”

Comments

  1. Jack says:

    Nice piece on the former President. He was a good and decent man. I had the chance to spend part of a day with him. He was everything that everyone says.

    I really wish there were more Gerald Fords in the world today.

    best wishes and happy new year Jack